Publishing: The Sink Or Swim Technique

When my father was about five-years-old, his father picked him up and threw him in the river. 

“He expected me to save myself and learn to swim in the process,” he said.

My father was telling me this story when I was five, too. We were standing at the side of the White River in Anderson, Indiana, where a crowd of children was splashing around and enjoying a break from the hot and humid summer. I remember how the sweat trickled down my face into my swimsuit, not from the heat, but from fear. 

Publishing: The Sink Or Swim Technique, guest post by Rebecca Jean Downey,
Purchase Links: Amazon Barnes & Noble Goodreads
Fortunately, my father took my hand, and together we waded into the river. I felt the water rushing around my knees, and for a minute, my legs buckled. The swift current made me dizzy and disoriented. 

My father was there to keep me from losing my balance. He taught me to swim that day in a more practical way than having me take a cold plunge into the deep end.  

I’ve often thought about that day and this sink or swim technique. Could it have its advantages for want-a-be authors? Wading into the shallow end to test the depth of the competition or the temperature (what genre is hot), is simply delaying the inevitable disorientation and fear that come from swimming against the current trends in publishing.

According to there have been over 700,000 book titles published in the first four months of 2015.  That number is up considerably from 2007, when there were 407,000 published during the entire year. What this means to me is that thousands of writers are jumping into the publishing stream without a sense of the marketplace. They just don’t care. And they are willing to swim against the tides of the massive competition. How about you? 

If I have one regret, it is waiting so long to jump in, too. I’d be lying, if I told you I hadn’t gone under a few times, trying to stay confident of my talent and engage readers, at the same time. I have been fortunate to have called upon a couple of excellent consultants, such as Lucia Zimmitti, Dan Blank and Geoff Talbot, who have each helped me in different ways to become successful. 

If you have been standing on the side of the river with a story burning to be published, and wishing and hoping for a rubber raft to float by, I would encourage you to take the plunge now. You will have many fellow authors out there to pull you back up, if you start hitting bottom. And I will be one of them.

Publishing: The Sink Or Swim Technique, guest post by Rebecca Jean Downey,
Rebecca Jean Downey is a thriller author with her eyes on the U.S.-Mexico border. Inspiration for her novels are plucked right out of the headlines or from interviews with law enforcement sources, journalists and other experts on border crime. She and her husband, Mike, live in El Paso, Texas, with their two rescue dogs, Riley and Skye. 

Visit Ms. Downey:
author's website author's twitter author's facebook


  1. A very interesting perspective on the world of publishing today. I'm sure you prompted more than a few would-be authors to take the plunge! Thanks so much for sharing this with us.


I love to hear from you. So feel free to comment, but keep in mind the basics of blog etiquette — no spam, no profanity, no slander, etc.

Thanks for being an active part of the Writers and Authors community.